If you’re not new to remote work, you know by now that remote work during this unique COVID-19 pandemic is much different than normal. And, if you just started working remotely due to stay-home orders, you may love it or hate it – but you should know it’s different than it normally is.
At first glance, it may seem similar and still have its perks. We all log in to our computers from the comfort of home, sans commute. Communication is through email, chat, phone, or video. Frequent breaks to the kitchen are welcomed and encouraged. All while we continue to meet deadlines, complete projects, and move forward as a team.
But if you look closer, you’ll notice the general disposition of people who have been working remotely long-term, has shifted. Productivity may not be what it once was. And the glamor in remote work may be a little lackluster in comparison. Here’s why:
Lack of Freedom
With the stay-home orders comes a sense of a lack of freedom. While working remotely generally means one works from home, many individuals find they enjoy, and are more productive, working from a coffee shop, coworking office, or other public space.
Unfortunately, the social distancing orders and temporary closure of coffee shops and other public venues force everyone to work from home with little to no social contact or a sense of freedom. The novelty of being able to work from wherever, whenever, is lost. Thus diminishing a bit of the attraction of remote work.
In traditional remote work situations, there is a clear balance of work vs. personal life. It was clear when the workday typically started and ended. The ability to go out to coffee shops, bars, travel, and see friends and colleagues in the real world, has paused. Those lines are now blurred by staying at home most of the time (if not all of the time). We casually move from work to binging Netflix, to sleep and work again, all within the same shared space.
Diminished Social Life
As humans, we are social creatures. We crave attention, praise, feedback, laughter, insight, compassion, and generally someone to hear and understand us. Our outlets typically consist of our social group, whether it’s meeting one on one or together, for social interaction and physical contact. Social distancing regulations not only impact our day-to-day life but affect us on a deeper level, depleting our mental health balance.
This, in turn, impacts our work, as mental health is crucial to productivity and a healthy workplace no matter where you are. While with today’s technology we are privileged enough to have text, phone, and video contact with our loved ones; nothing can truly replace in-person contact.
For many of us, the current global situation and restrictions have really shaken us to our core. Our sense of “normal” is lacking. The things which gave us comfort in the past, and pushed us to seek out remote work in the first place, such as social life and a sense of freedom, have been stripped from us. Trips and vacations have been canceled. There is a true crisis in parts of the world. Feelings around what we have no control over and must watch from afar can be distressing. And for some of us, this pandemic has touched our lives on a more personal level through our loved ones.
There’s a sense of permanence with this situation. Without a clear end-date, it’s unknown as to when it will be safe to return to a sense of “normalcy” again. This can be extremely distracting from work, and even leave some feeling overwhelmed, tired, and even depressed. It’s so important during this time to take care of ourselves on a personal level. Through this, we can function better as a whole through work and other daily activities.
The last highlight we are going to share is a general sense of feeling uninspired. This is especially true for writers, content generators, graphic designers, artists, etc. Not only can there be a lack of motivation due to missing focus, as mentioned above, but for many of us, we are unsure how to navigate such new territory. On one hand, there’s work to be done, deadlines to meet, projects to complete, clients and audiences waiting for our next move. But on the other hand, we can’t simply ignore the current situation and trek on as usual without addressing the elephant in the room.
For many of us, what once inspired our work and perpetuated the motivation behind it, is now missing due to global and social restrictions. The lack of nature, travel, social contact, daily routine, and other inspiring activities and sights, certainly has had an impact on the average remote worker.
We encourage everyone experiencing some, or all, of these effects of the pandemic while working remotely, to focus on self-care. It’s important to take care of yourself first and foremost. Finding a routine that works best for you around your work schedule can be extremely helpful. Finding ways to stay social, within social-distancing guidelines, is essential.
Know that this is temporary. There will be an end to this situation, even if it’s not in sight currently.
The current situation is grief for all of us. And while it feels heavy to carry alone, the great thing is that we are never truly alone – no matter where you are in the world. Especially now, we are in this together.